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Florida Bankruptcy

It is a tough decision to file Bankruptcy. Basically, if you are an individual or a family and your expenses exceed your income, you have the ability to file either a Chapter 7, known as a “liquidating estate,” or a Chapter 13, known as a “reorganization estate.” In both case types a Trustee is appointed to oversee your case. In a Chapter 7, the Trustee’s job is to find any assets you have which are not exempt and sell them. In a Chapter 13, the Trustee’s job is mainly to make sure you follow a “plan” that you have made to pay your creditors a percentage of what you owe. The goal in both types of bankruptcy cases is to get you out of debt.

When you file a bankruptcy, a Federal law comes into play which basically prevents your creditors to from contacting you and trying to get money from you. They cannot file suit against you or proceed with a suit that has already been filed, without approval from the Bankruptcy Judge in your case. In the last few years, many people have found themselves in foreclosure. One way to stop a foreclosure sale is to file bankruptcy. This brings the Federal “automatic stay” into effect, and a sale of your home cannot take place unless and until the bankruptcy Court says so.

Changes in federal bankruptcy law which came into effect in October of 2005, have made it a bit harder to file bankruptcy for those people above a certain income level, depending upon the median income of the state that the debtor resides in. In Florida, for instance, a single wage earner as of  May 1, 2012 can make up to a little over $40,000 yearly and still file a Chapter 7. Indeed, for a vast majority of people, the affect of the new laws will require them to get a certificate from a consumer credit counseling agency that they have taken a course, before they file , and a personal financial management course, after filing.

In Florida, homestead property is what I call "sacred." No one can force a sale of your home except the mortgage company. A creditor who has a judgment against you obtains what is known as a charging lien on any property you own. The Constitution of Florida protects your home plus $1,000 of personal property, $2,000 if you are married. In addition, the statutes in Florida protect any retirement funds you may have, annuity contracts, any pre-paid college funds, and up to $1,000 of equity in a single motor vehicle. If you do not claim a homestead exemption, you can claim up to $4,000, double if you are married, of personal property as being exempt.

The hiring of an attorney is an important decision which should not be based upon advertising alone. Before you decide, ask us to send you free information about  qualifications and experience.